“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy. For today a savior has been born ....
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
Luke: 2

Creighton University Online Ministries
Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer
Fourth Sunday of Advent and
Christmas Week: Dec. 24 - 30, 2023

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Fourth Sunday of Advent and
Christmas Week

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we read Luke's Gospel of the Annunciation, the moment when a troubled Mary is told she has found favor with God and she will conceive and bear a son. She questions: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Then declaring herself the handmaiden of the Lord, she accepts: “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Monday is Christmas Day. The first celebration of The Nativity of the Lord is the Mass at Midnight. The first reading is from Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” This powerful reading deserves a slow contemplation. The Gospel is from Luke: the journey to Bethlehem, the birth, the angels announce the birth to the shepherds. The second celebration of The Nativity of the Lord is the Mass at Dawn. The Gospel is from Luke: the shepherds visit the newborn child. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” The third celebration of The Nativity of the Lord is the Mass during the Day. Here the Gospel is from the beginning of John's Gospel: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”

Then, the church celebrates three very important feasts after Christmas. We celebrate the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first public witness who gave his life for his faith. Then we celebrate the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist. And, we encounter the moving Feast of the Holy Innocents, remembering the infant martyrs of Herod's jealous rage.

On the Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas we have the story of the Purification in the temple and the powerful words of Simeon about Jesus and about Mary. On the Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas we have the story about Anna in the temple and Jesus going home with his parents. "The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him."

Sunday is the wonderful Feast of the Holy Family, and there is a wonderful variety of readings from which to choose. Luke's Gospel is the story of the teen aged Jesus teaching in the temple while his parents searched for him. Jesus goes back home with his family. “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”


Daily Prayer This Week

There is a very quick transition after Sunday. Christmas is upon us. It can be difficult to stay focused on Christmas eve and Christmas day - even though the mystery before us is so powerful. We can wake each morning with a brief prayer to remind ourselves that Our Lord came in history - for me. We can remind ourselves of our Advent prayers that he come to us now. The nativity stories can remind us of how he comes, in poverty, in rejection, into the lowliest of places, so that I'll believe now, this year, that he can and desires to come into my place, my heart, my life. It is a time of deep gratitude, not matter how busy we are with many things.

The feasts take us into parts of Jesus' public life, almost completely passing over the hidden life years. The disciples are finding the empty tomb. It helps to recognize this and let ourselves enter this part of the mystery of the Incarnation. We are living in the flesh each day of our lives. He came to enter this life and be with us in it. After Christmas, we have these few days to let the blessings of Christmas settle in.

Each one of us can begin our post-Christmas time by staying in touch with ourselves in the flesh - as people touched by Jesus' coming. We can turn to our Lord throughout each day and have real conversations with our Savior. Over the kitchen sink, by the dishwasher, in front of the washing machine. While going to work, walking, going to a meeting, returning from one.

During our preparation for Christmas we were asking the Lord to open our hearts, to let us wait with patient trust, and to come to us. This week we experienced joy and the mixed challenges of Christmas. We have the opportunity to have ordinary conversations with our God who came to be with us.

Thank you so much, Lord, for becoming flesh for me. And, thank you for being with me now, in the midst of each day's joys and sorrows. I ask you to increase my trust in you, my desire for closeness with you and my commitment to turn to you all day long. Continue to be with me when I have to make difficult decisions, when I need extra patience and care when in challenging situations. Continue to let my heart experience the joy of Christmas all week as I see signs of your presence with me.

When these words take on our own voice and our details, it will feel very personal. And, when we speak about our fears, our needs, when we express our gratitude and our deep desires, we are living an intimate relationship with the one who became flesh that we might never need feel alone again.

Many of the resources on this site let us enter into the Christmas Season.

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